When one of your family members dies, you go through a difficult grieving process. The complexities of distributing the estate may be difficult to understand and handle when you are dealing with the loss of someone you love. If the probate process seems unfair or strange to you, it may be because the will is invalid.
If the will is not a sound legal document, you may be able to challenge it. But before you contest the will, you should understand what makes a will valid. Here are the most important components of a properly-executed will.
Voluntary writing and signing
Perhaps the most important feature of a valid will is that the writing and signing must be completely voluntary. The testator must enter into the will of his or her own accord without any outside pressure or manipulation. If you find out that the will was procured under duress or because of undue influence, you may want to litigate the will.
Anyone who writes and signs a will must be of sound mind. This is known as testamentary capacity in legal terms. A testator must fully understand the effect, nature and extent of the will. For example, if an individual has dementia while signing a will, it may not be viable.
In order for a will to hold up in probate court, it must have the signatures of witnesses. It is best for the witnesses to be neutral parties, such as notaries or lawyers. This is crucial to protect against fraudulent wills. If there are no witness signatures, a judge may choose not to go through the probate process.
There are many requirements for a will to be legally binding and these are some of the most imperative. If any of these things do not apply to the will in question, there may be room for probate litigation. Before you challenge a will, it is essential to understand the situations in which you can be a credible threat.